Preps Talk

Edgy: Homewood-Flossmoor will be tested

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Edgy: Homewood-Flossmoor will be tested

What a season so far for the state's top-ranked team, the Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings.

Look at their resume: an undefeated season, tons of press and other coverage including the weekly CSN Drive series and all sorts of other accolades. It's been nothing but running clocks, excitement and fun for everyone in and around both Homewood and Flossmoor these days.

But I'm here to tell you something Viking Nation: You will be tested.

Tested? Yes, tested.

That test might not come this week when you travel to Joliet West on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers most likely will be without standout do-it-all quarterback Alex Tibble, who suffered an injury a few weeks ago. It might not even come with the remaining regular-season conference schedule, though I'm willing to guess more than one of the remaining Southwest Suburban Blue teams will provide a bit more drama over the next few weeks.

But that test will come. Someone out there will be capable of standing up and taking a few haymakers from the Vikings. And who knows, maybe that mystery team could even throw a few counter punches of their own.

[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Power Rankings: Week 6]

Now, does this mean I'm saying that this Vikings team can't win it all? Nope, I'm not saying that whatsoever. I first picked the Vikings as my No. 1 preseason team back during the 2014 Class 8A state title game. Could the Vikings just roll on through the rest of the regular season and the 8A state playoff field undefeated? Yes, they could.

But someone will provide drama this season for the H-F Vikings. I can count on one hand (and have a few fingers left) the amount of teams over the years who went wire-to-wire as the top-ranked team in Illinois.

Cherish every win and all of the amazing memories so far this season. Just remember that nothing worthwhile comes easy and that once we hit Week 10, it can all end in a matter of minutes.

They love you when you are on top of the world, and they can also forget you just as fast when you slip and fall.

Enjoy the ride, but make sure to keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. I have a feeling that the road could become a bit more bumpy ahead.

8 Days to Kickoff: Warren

8 Days to Kickoff: Warren

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Justin VanSchaick, Brandon Schild, Josh Williams, Tayler Erbach, Kurt Weinberg and Chris Caballero

How they fared in 2018: 10-2 (7-0 North Suburban Conference). Warren made the Class 8A state playoff field and defeated Neuqua Valley and Hinsdale Central. They advanced to the quarterfinal round where they lost to Brother Rice.

2019 segular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Barrington

Sept. 6 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 13 @ Waukegan

Sept. 20 @ Libertyville

Sept. 27 vs Lake Forest

Oct. 5 vs Zion-Benton

Oct. 11 @ Lake Zurich

Oct. 18 @ Stevenson

Oct. 25 vs Mundelein

[MORE: 19 Days to Kickoff: Barrington

Biggest storyline: The Blue Devils featured one of the state’s best defenses in 2018. It resulted in their best season since 1991. Can they maintain some of that momentum and advance deeper in the Class 8A playoffs come November?

Names to watch this season: DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Sr., Iowa State) and LB Juan Delacruz (Sr.) 

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils welcome back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). And while several of those 10 returnees are key playmakers, Coach McNulty and company will have to reload in the offensive skills department and in the defensive backfield.

EDGY's Early Take: Warren had a terrific season in 2018. Several big names are back for 2019. The Blue Devils defense was a strength last season—they shut out five opponents and kept three more to a touchdown or less. This year’s unit is led by senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. The offense will look to improve on last season’s numbers with junior QB Phil Hirt. He and senior ATH Christian Phillips will bring experience. If the Blue Devils can come close to the high-level of defense they played with last season –and if the offense can generate more points-- this team could be a big time factor in the Class 8A playoffs. 

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Brother Rice

Head coach: Brian Badke

Assistant coaches: Dan O'Brien (OC/QB), Anthony Malopsy (DC/LB), Bob Wilcox (DL), Tim McAplin (DB) and Dan Nicholson (WR)

How they fared in 2018: 13-1 (4-0 CCL Blue Conference). Brother Rice made the Class 8A state playoff field and defeated Zion-Benton, Oak Park-River Forest, Warren Township and Marist. They advanced to the state title game and lost to Loyola Academy.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Hillcrest
Sept. 6 vs Perspectives
Sept. 13 vs Providence Catholic
Sept. 20 vs Marist
Sept. 27 @ Joliet Catholic Academy
Oct. 5 @ Loyola Academy
Oct. 11 vs St. Laurence
Oct. 18 @ Carmel
Oct. 25 @ Mount Carmel

[MORE: 10 Days to Kickoff: Mount Carmel] 

Biggest storyline: What will Brother Rice will do for an encore? Can the Crusaders, who sprinted past a rough 2017 season (2-7 record) to a 13-1 mark in 2018, reload on offense and make another run toward the 8A title game?

Names to watch this season: DT Justin Jefferson (Sr.), S Giacomo Iraci (Sr., Western Michigan)

Biggest holes to fill: The Crusaders will need to replace 10 graduated starters on the offensive side of the football. Senior RB Jahlil Pettis is the lone starter back on 'O this season.
  
EDGY's Early Take: Brother Rice had a terrific run in 2018-- one of the best seasons in school history. While the graduation losses are a big issue, the Crusaders also have plenty of talent waiting in the wings. The defense will feature six returning starters including DT Justin Jefferson and S Giacomo Iraci. Incoming transfer DT Denver Warren (West Aurora) has a chance to become another impact player. On offense, senior QB Colin Smyth and junior RB Willie Shaw will make waves. Shaw has already added FBS-level scholarship offers this summer and has a chance to have a big breakout season. Developing a young offensive line was a top priority this summer. They'll have an intriguing battle against a good Hillcrest program in the opener.